Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Forecaster:   Wendy Wagner  
Tuesday, December 3rd 2013
Created: Dec 3rd 6:31 am
1 Low Alpine / Above 2,500' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
1 Low Treeline / 1,000'-2,500' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
1 Low Below Treeline / Below 1,000' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
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Special Announcement

Don't miss out on tonight's FREE fireside chat! The topic will be 'Avalanche Rescue', presented by CNFAIC director and retired Denali Rescue Ranger Kevin Wright. It will be held in Anchorage at the Alaska Avalanche School at 6:30pm. This is the second in a four part series. See the calendar tab for more details.

The Bottom Line

We have an overall LOW avalanche danger in the Turnagain Pass area. If you are traveling in the high elevations on steep terrain, over 40deg, the potential exists to find and trigger a lingering wind slab avalanche.

However, the main threat to a person skiing or snowboarding is hitting thinly veiled rocks. As for snowmachines, they are safe for now since the Chugach National Forest remains closed to motorized use due to the very shallow snow cover. We need more snow!

Primary Concern

There is little to report from the backcountry avalanche-wise. The last avalanche activity seen was a small wind slab cycle on Nov 27th. These old and stubborn wind slabs are sitting on faceted snow and littered about the mountains. If you are traveling in steep terrain there is a chance you may be able to pop one of these off, most likely in a steep rocky area with no support for the slab from below. Though I think you'd have to try pretty hard to do this.

In general, the snowpack continues its weakening process under the clear skies. Despite the significant warming at the upper elevations yesterday, the snow remains cold, dry and faceted.


Average snowpack depths:
Above treeline, 15-30"
elow treeline, 12-15"

All that said, the real "Primary Concern" is hitting rocks. Below is a core shot to my partner's ski yesterday - ouch.


Mountain Weather

A significant warm-up has been seen over the past 24 hours at the mid and upper elevations. This is due to a warm air mass that moved over us from the north and west. Check out the temperature trace at the Sunburst weather station - a downright balmy 38 degrees mid-day yesterday! The warm-up, however, is slow to reach the lower elevations which still sit in the single digits F. Winds have been light, 5-10mph, and variable to westerly on the ridge tops. Skies have remained clear.

A mild day is in store for today. Winds are forecast to make a shift to the south and remain light. Temperatures will be in the 20'sF to low 30's in the mid and upper elevations while those at sea level rise into the upper teens to 20's. Skies should remain clear with some thin high clouds in places.

Looking forward: the storm system that models were showing to move into Southcentral Alaska on Thursday is now looking to stay to our west. If this verifies, our next chance for snow is on the distant horizon.


This is a general backcountry avalanche advisory issued for Turnagain Arm with Turnagain Pass as the core advisory area (this advisory does not apply to highways, railroads, or operating ski areas).

Winter snowmachine use open/closed status and riding conditions updates

Riding status is not associated with avalanche danger. An area will be open to motorized use in accordance to the Forest Management Plan when snow coverage is adequate to protect underlying vegetation. Backcountry hazards including avalanche hazard are always present regardless of the open status of motorized use areas.

(Updated: Dec 08, 2017 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: Closed
Placer River: Closed
Skookum Drainage: Closed
Turnagain Pass: ClosedRain and snow have fallen in Turnagain Pass this week, but not enough to open for snowmachining. Continue to check back to this site for updates.
Twentymile: Closed
Seward District
Carter Lake: Closed
Lost Lake Trail: Closed
Primrose Trail: Closed
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedResurrection Pass trail is expected to open to snowmachine use during the 2017/18 winter season.
Snug Harbor: Closed
South Fork Snow River Corridor: Closed
Summit Lake: Closed

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The information in this advisory is from the U.S. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur. This advisory provided by the Chugach National Forest, in partnership with Friends of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center.

If you have comments or questions regarding CNFAIC operations or winter recreation management, please email
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